52 weeks – July 15, 2012

Book

The Road to Lichfield, by Penelope Lively. A portrait of the life of a forty-year-old woman during the year that her father is dying. She has a mid-life crisis and she discovers that her father had a secret. The story is simple but beautifully done and the intermittent chapters from the point of view of the father are haunting. Memories of his life are mixed with a slow descent into a dreamlike world as he gradually slips away.

Anne drives from Cuxing to Lichfield every week to visit her father:

She drove north again, the next day, through kaleidoscopic weather. The landscape blazed in sunlight, or sulked beneath leaden clouds. When it was not raining, the wet road shone as a mirror image of the sky. She was distracted by the beauty of it, removed from the purpose of the journey so that sometimes she seemed to be travelling simply for the sake of moving like this along gleaming roads, between towns and villages that existed only as names on signs.

Food

The halibut and chips on a seafront patio at White Rock, after walking by the sea.

Play

King John at Bard on the Beach. Not the best BOTB I have been to. There were not enough nuances in the acting: characters weren’t sufficiently differentiated and shouted at each other too much. Rage can often be conveyed more effectively in a quiet voice.

There was one wonderful piece of staging when the young Arthur (Lucas Gustafson) jumps to his death from the castle walls. Standing on scaffolding, he leaps and is caught by the hands of many hooded people standing below. They then toss him in the air and he tumbles a couple of times, conveying a twisting fall. At the same time, you hear his disembodied recorded voice saying

Oh me! my uncle’s spirit is in these stones: —

Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!

It’s a chilling moment that rounds off an excellent performance by the young actor.

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